Beckham relishing Champions League chance

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The Independent Online

David Beckham is relishing the chance to play Champions League football again once he returns to AC Milan.

The England midfielder will start his second loan spell with the Italians in January, having first joined them from the Los Angeles Galaxy at the start of 2009.

Milan had missed out on Champions League qualification last season but they are on course to progress from the group stages this time around, allowing the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star to be eligible for the start of the knockout phase in February.

A Champions League winner in 1999 with Manchester United, Beckham's 103rd and final appearance in the competition to date came for Real Madrid in 2007, prior to joining the Galaxy that July and the 34-year-old is once again looking forward to the big European match nights.

"I've not been involved for a few years now but I always enjoy Champions League games," Beckham said.

"They're different from playing the majority of league games.

"They're always special nights and there's always a different atmosphere, especially at big clubs like Manchester United, Real Madrid and Milan."

Beckham has been keeping an eye on Milan's early season form in Serie A under new head coach Leonardo.

"Unless I've been playing or training I've watched every game," he said.

"I watch every Milan game, every Manchester United game and every Madrid game being an ex-player and a fan of all three teams. It's great to watch teams like that and learn from players and teams.

"It was a tough start (for Milan) but that was going to happen but Milan are a great team and it was never going to be a problem."

Beckham must firstly try to help the Galaxy reach the MLS Cup final, which determines the American league champions and he is committed to the cause, even it means missing out on a 116th England cap later this month.

Should the Galaxy defeat Los Angeles rivals Chivas USA in their Western Conference semi-final second leg tomorrow night, the next round of the play-offs will clash with England's friendly against Brazil in Doha on November 14.

"Of course I'd a lot rather the Galaxy progressed in the play-offs more than anything," Beckham said.

"We've got to this stage and done well so far this season but everybody knows how proud I am about playing for my country.

"Ideally it would be great if they were separate but they're not so it will be good if we progress."

Beckham said he and his team-mates would have to step up their game from last Sunday's 2-2 draw with Chivas, if the Galaxy are to go deeper into the play-offs.

He explained: "We know we can play better than we did in the first game and we have to if we want to progress. We have to play a lot better."